ServeATL is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Oct. 13 in the parking lot of the Home Depot at 2450 Cumberland Parkway. The event is an activity of Vinings Church, a nondenominational organization started by Crossroads Church in Douglasville.
“We feel like everybody has a generous bone in their body, even the mean people,” Vinings Church Pastor Justin Craig said. “We’re trying to tap into that.”
Volunteers are asked to register and select a preferred project they want to serve on at the organization’s website, www.serveatl.com, before they come. Projects include building picnic tables at a homeless shelter, landscaping and painting a basketball court at an elementary school, volunteering at an event and working with a group that fights against sex trafficking of underage girls in Atlanta.
At Home Depot, serveATL volunteers gather in the parking lot and are sent a designated spot where they are given directions to a location around the Atlanta area to work with their selected cause.
“It’s structured so all volunteers can get to their destinations by 10,” said Malika Harricharan, a spokeswoman for the event.
Craig said the volunteers work on 56 different projects with 25 organizations, including schools and charities.
The actual agencies that participants are volunteering for aren’t revealed until they get there. Harricharan said she hasn’t even been told what the groups are.
In the past, volunteers had been allowed to pick specific projects, but some would then skip the gathering event, leaving organizers scratching their heads as to how many people were working at each site and where they should send them, Craig said.
Vinings Church provides volunteers with free breakfast and lunch from Chick-fil-A and a serveATL T-shirt.
The serveATL events are held twice yearly, with the most recent taking place in May. Harricharan said the first event was in October 2010, when it just served Vinings. It has since grown to serve all of Cobb County and now the inner city in Atlanta.
Organizers are hoping to top the 250 volunteers who participated in the May event.
While serveATL is held twice a year, Craig said its goal is to mobilize people to volunteer on a regular basis, particularly helping in some of the high-crime areas of Cobb and Fulton counties.
Long term, Craig said he has big dreams for serveATL.
“The basic idea is we’re restoring dignity to parts of Atlanta and Cobb County that have lost it,” he said. “We want to fill up Philips Arena one day, and the Georgia Dome, and go help entire communities.”